Valery Spiridonov, the Russian patient suffering from Werdnig-Hoffman’s disease, will no longer make medical history by being the first Head Transplant patient of controversial Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero. The first patient is a Chinese as the breakthrough procedure would take place in China.

Canavero had considered Spiridonov for almost two years as his first head transplant patient. Georg Kindel, the editor, and publisher of OOOM, the media company that is in charge of Canavero’s press release, explained that since the procedure would be held in China, it would be easier to get a Chinese donor to whose body the team would attach the head of the patient suffering from a life-threatening disease.

No reaction from Valery

The ease in finding a Chinese donor is the main reason behind the change in plans by the Italian neurosurgeon. Kindel said he is unsure if Canavero had spoken to Valery Spiridonov about the changes. But he pointed out that if the head transplant should succeed – amid doubts by the medical community – the Russian would likely also get a new body through the procedure eventually. The only question, for now, is when the head transplant would take place, Newsweek reported.

Lack of details

Canavero did not provide a specific timetable when the head transplant would take place. He said it would be within 10 months, but Kindel said that the team in on track to perform the procedure by the end of 2017.

He is collaborating with Xiaoping Ren from the Harbin Medical University in China for the head transplant.

The two had previously been involved in experiments using animals for head transplants. While they were able to successfully transplant an animal head to another body, the animal patient eventually died. Besides the alleged lack of proof of a successful head transplant procedure, Canavero and Xiaoping have not presented sufficient details of the steps they would take to ensure the experiment would succeed, critics of the experiment said.

But the Italian surgeon said there are now several papers on the procedure that are under peer review and would soon be published in renowned scientific medical journals. Due to the massive progress in the experiments, Canavero insisted the head transplant procedure would be done in China – where securing regulatory approval is easier than in Europe – and this will no doubt revolutionize medicine.

Chemical called polyethylene glycol

The studies that the Italian doctor referred to are a series of three papers he co-edited for the “Surgical Neurology International” journal. The studies point to the use of a chemical, polyethylene glycol, which would help reconnect a severed spinal cord.

The chemical supposedly would address the concern raised by Jerry Silver, a neuroscientist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, about the papers that Canavero cited which Silver said do not support similar results for humans. The Italian neurosurgeon said he would use a technique on a Chinese patient that was used on a dog which walked three weeks after the animal’s spinal cord was almost severed. New Scientist reported there is video footage of the dog.